Time to take a breath before the next product onslaught in 2019-2020
As AMG marks its 50th anniversary as the high-performance division of Mercedes-Benz, sales and ambitions have never been higher.
It started in a garage as a tuner and has become a true sports car manufacturer, said Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG. Today, AMG has 1,600 people working in Affalterbach, Germany. The brand is celebrating 33-34 individual body styles and that will grow to 40 by the end of the decade, said Ola Källenius, member of the Daimler board of management responsible for group research and Mercedes-Benz cars development.
Among them: the hypercar codenamed Project One. The production model will be shown this fall at the Frankfurt Motor Show and deliveries could begin a year later, with a limited run of up to 300 cars. “That’s the next birthday present,” said Tobias Moers, chairman and CEO of Mercedes-AMG. The anniversary year is being celebrated with an extension of the GT family including an exclusive Edition 50 GT C coupe.
The number of future AMG models could be even higher with vehicles to come under EQ, the automaker’s latest sub-brand devoted to electric vehicles.
“Product is the key,” said Moers who has overseen expansion of the brand, including the addition of the entry-level 43 portfolio last year, resulting in a pace of “a new car every month.” AMG sold 99,235 vehicles globally in 2016, which is about where Porsche was in 2010 and Moers likes the comparisons to Porsche. He notes AMG sales were in the 15,000 range in 2010 and have seen 40 percent growth in each of the last three years.
AMG will easily top 100,000 sales this year as it continues to beat even the most optimistic expectations. Källenius credits a strategy for the brand to straddle two worlds: thoroughbred performance and ease of use so the vehicles strive to be animals as well as a daily driver. He thinks the balancing act has spawned the growth in both sales and image for AMG. Moving down-market is also attracting younger buyers to the brand.
AMG now has 104 “points of sale” and has better-trained staff, Moers said. To improve customer care, there is now a dedicated customer hotline in Europe if you break down and AMG is discussing whether to have one in the North America as well.
After so much expansion, Moers said it is time to take a breath, concentrate on all the new models available now, and prepare to expand again in the 2019-2020 timeframe.
“There is still room to grow,” Källenius agrees. “We have markets to develop and Tobias has not run out of ideas.” The American market will enjoy the expanded portfolio which could include more utility vehicles as AMG looks to fill any holes in its lineup.
More engineering flows from AMG to Mercedes-Benz than ever before, Moers said, noting AMG was in charge of the new V-8 platform now in the S-Class and is also responsible for the V-12 platform. “Lot of responsibility on our shoulders.”
And the halo effect of AMG—from the C63 coupe to S-Class cabrio, G-wagen, and the coming hypercar—has helped change the face of the Mercedes-Benz lineup as even the elegant S-Class has become sportier and more emotional, said Källenius.